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SoundTRAX: "Superfly"

Curtis Mayfield is pictured along with characters from the film "Superfly."
Curtom Records
Warner Bros.

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.

The poster read "Never a dude like this one! He's got a plan to stick it to The Man!"

Super Fly turns 51 this month and yes, the so-called "blaxploitation" film was polarizing in 1972 and still is today.

Black Americans were divided on whether the film was empowering, or simply a glamorization of drug culture and gang violence.

But when it comes to the soundtrack there can be no debate: it is a funk-soul classic.

Curtis Mayfield, acclaimed musician and former member of The Impressions, wrote and produced the album that was an immediate hit both critically and commercially.

Unlike the film, it was unapologetically anti-drug and socially aware. So much so that several executives expected it to flop and were stunned when it went gold almost immediately.

Critic John Bush said:

"Super Fly ignited an entire genre of music... and influenced everyone from soul singers to television-music composers for decades to come. It stands alongside Saturday Night Fever and Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols as one of the most vivid touchstones of '70s pop music."

For today's SoundTRAX selection I'm going with the first single released from the collection, one that peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the R&B chart.

From Super Fly, it's Curtis Mayfield with "Freddie's Dead."

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.